Do we always see the same side of the moon when it turns around us?

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Moon's rotation is considered "synchronous," meaning that it always presents the same face to the Earth.  Most moons so far discovered are of this type, where the orbiting moon shows the same face to the parent body.  This occurs because over time, the gravitational interaction between the parent body and the moon come to a stable rotation.  However, in the case of our own Moon, there is a process known as "libration"  (from the Latin "libra", meaning a balance scale) or asynchronous rotation, where the Moon actually rocks back and forth relative to the Earth over the course of its monthly journey. Because of this swinging or rocking, we can see a bit more of either edge of the Moon, so about 59% of the "dark side" of the lunar surface is actually visible from Earth. This "swing" has been slowing down over the eons; in the far future, the Moon's rotation will in fact be completely synchronous. Considering the far past, however, computer models have suggested that at one time, in its early life, the Moon actually orbited the Earth in 10 hours (!) and and spun on its axis such that the whole lunar surface was visible. This was, of course, before any life form existed on Earth to see it.


larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes. The moon orbits the earth every twenty eight days; at the same time it rotates on its axis the same amount of time; for that reason, the same side of the moon is always visible to the earth and the back side--the so called "dark side of the moon" is always turned away from the earth and cannot be seen from that viewpoint. No one had seen the back or "dark" side of the moon until the early Apollo missions orbited the moon and sent back pictures. The phrase "dark side of the moon" has often been used in a literary sense to portray that which is mysterious and sinister, yet unknown, and yet to be discovered.

Satellite observations of the dark side of the moon indicate no great disparity with the side facing the earth; but as noted above, it is not visible from earth, nor has it ever been.

chancehall | Student



astrosonuthird | Student

Yes! The rotating speed of Earth and moon is same so, we don't see the dark side of the moon. But the astronauts have went there on the dark side.

astrosonu | Student

The moons rotation is considered as ''synchronous''

astrosonu | Student

Oh man! if u know the answer y did u ask. the answer is definetly yes.

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